Each and every day I pull back my bedroom curtains and gaze out across the fields before me. Two weeks out of every four, a thirty strong herd of red deer can be seen grazing in one of the fields beyond. The herd, a mixture of stags and hinds, will move silently across the field until they disappear into the woodland – only to appear again in late afternoon on their return journey.
Why can I not ignore this regular occurrence? Why can I just not open the curtains to greet a new day and simply make my way downstairs for my first, and much-needed, cup of tea? It’s impossible to do and it’s why I love Exmoor so much. A new day dawns and with it comes something new to see. Yes, it’s the same view but it will never look exactly the way it did yesterday… Or even five minutes ago.
The view from my cottage window is like a tv screen – my own personal cinema showing the latest movie. After making my early morning cuppa, I’ll return to bed and from there, I am able to watch the world outside come to life, whilst nibbling on a chocolate digestive. Magpies chatter noisily and land on the bare branches of the beech trees opposite, before bounding off along the tops of the hedgerows. They are busy building a nest of great proportions at the moment and are in the process of putting up the cradle part of the roof. All clever stuff! Whilst all this is happening very brave blue tits will come to peck at the window frames giving me a wonderful view of their colour at this time of year. All the birds are becoming vibrant in readiness for mating but the blue tits look as if they’ve been to a top class salon for a makeover. They will tap on the landing window and the kitchen window but when they come to the bathroom window, they are so close you could reach out and touch them!
Outside the bedroom window is the cable from a telegraph pole. It snakes its way across the open sky, wobbling in the breeze to its anchor yonder, and is a stop-gap for many a bird. I’ll watch for the swallows to come when the weather warms a little, their chattering constant from morning ’till night. For now though it is a regular perch for a pair of goldfinches and, together, they will sit and entertain me with their pretty faces. They will stay and use the cable for many a month to come – something to look forward to once again. Simple but priceless.
I watch the deer gradually crossing the field as I sip my tea. They split up a little and go about their business in twos and threes – the stags, still sporting their antlers, remain alone. There is also a lone buzzard who makes an appearance some mornings but not today. Instead I have chaffinches flitting along the hedge in abundance to keep me company. The tell-tale white bars in their tails flashing quickly as they take flight, only to land again on the floor to look for the morning’s offerings. They think nothing of coming to take crumbs from the slate window sill and I’m happy to oblige.
Robins are one of my favourite birds as they are so friendly. I have three that come to visit every day and they fight like cat and dog when they happen to congregate at the bird table. They don’t give off a very friendly vibe when this happens as feathers are ruffled and, more often than not, fly. One of the robins though, does come to sit on the old front gate and, without fail, he will be there whilst I dry my hair. He has a war wound to his chest and a white mark on his left wing. He’ll be there this morning and if only I could drag myself away from the view, I’d probably see him there, waiting for me.
The deer, beautiful in the early morning sun, are really moving out of sight now and into the wood. It depends how the fancy takes them on where they go to next but I can sometimes see them in the field to the right of the cottage. There they are sheltered from the lane but a little nearer to the cottage and the herd will only consist of hinds this time. Here, these wonderful creatures will settle down and make themselves comfy for a couple of hours before moving off again.
I love it that I’m able to see the deer on a daily basis, somewhere around the cottage. I am, by no means, a deer expert but it doesn’t stop me watching them and enjoying their beauty. I am self-taught. I suppose you could say I only know what I know about them by observing. However, I read a lot, listen to others and know that I’ll never stop learning.
My refreshing Earl Grey finished, I now have no excuse to stay where I am. So, it’s up and out and on with the day. Today’s job, after the logs and sticks, is to investigate a large rabbit sized hole half way up the garden, in the bank. I have rabbits here all the time but not exactly taking up residence and I did wonder who was nibbling the tops off my dwarf daffodils. (Chances are they won’t be brightening my garden at Easter!). The hole is rather large with all the earth scrabbled out and resting down the bank. It’s by no means a tidy job they’ve made but I’ll go have a look and see what needs to be done.
Baking day is normally today but the sun is shining out there and the garden needs to be investigated further than the rabbit hole. There are also a good supply of fallen sticks and branches to be had and I cannot ignore those. So, cakes and pastries may have to wait until tomorrow as herbs and seeds may keep me away as well as ‘pick up sticks ‘… Should the weather stay fine – who knows?
Whatever happens, whatever plans change, some things remain a constant in my life here: the birds and wildlife seem to cuddle this peaceful cottage of mine and the red deer of Exmoor are ever-present. These are things I will never take for granted and as I throw back my curtains each morning greeting the world, you just might hear me proclaim ‘ good morning Exmoor – blessed be my friend, blessed be!’